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Wonder Woman 1984's Patty Jenkins Teases The Return Of This Villain

Contains spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984.

A Cheetah might not change its spots.

At the end of Wonder Woman 1984, the superhero sequel that's been a huge hit for streaming service HBO Max, the ultimate fate of Dr. Barbara Minerva, AKA Cheetah (Kristen Wiig), is left ambiguous. That ambiguity leaves an opening for Cheetah to return in Wonder Woman 3, which studio Warner Bros. has put on a development fast track

And chances are high that she'll be back. In an interview with Den of Geek, Wonder Woman 1984 director Patty Jenkins left wide open the possibility for a Cheetah return, saying that there might be more story to tell with the gemologist-turned-apex predator.

Barbara's final scene in Wonder Woman 1984 comes after Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) electrocutes her, after failing to convince her former friend to renounce the wish granted to her by Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) that turned her into a cat/human hybrid. Barbara survives the fight, and is finally seen having reverted to human form as she recuperates on a rocky cliff. Everyone else in the world, including Max Lord himself, appears to have renounced their wishes, but it's unclear if Barbara has. 

"I have my reasons for making it ambiguous," Jenkins said, "and I think it's not clear what her point of view [is] on everything that just happened ... I love that we wrap up Max Lord's point of view, and that you see the culmination of that storyline, I think is so important. But the truth is there may or may not be more to come [for Barbara]."

Will Cheetah return in Wonder Woman 3?

Perhaps the return of Barbara Minerva will allow audiences to learn more about her backstory and motivations, and see her as a more complete character — particularly since some critics have argued that Barbara is underdeveloped in Wonder Woman 1984Vox's Alex Abad-Santos, in an article arguing regarding how the film "failed Cheetah," writes that, "We never learn much about who Barbara is, anyway, beyond that she's nerdy, lonely, and would trade everything in the world to be stylish, popular, and admired. But this surface-level adaptation is a waste of a character who, in the comic books, is Wonder Woman's complicated, fascinating arch-enemy." 

Perhaps Wonder Woman 3 will let Cheetah become Wonder Woman's true foil, rather than a secondary threat. Or perhaps Barbara will realize that they're stronger together, and the foes will become allies.

Of course, there's no guarantee that Cheetah will return for Wonder Woman 3. Jenkins did say that there "may or may not be more to come" — especially since the third installment will have to address Wonder Woman 1984's post-credits scene, which hints that Diana's forebear Asteria (Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on the 1970s TV show) will presumably play an important part in the third movie. Based on that, it's possible that there may not be room for Cheetah. But since it seems unlikely that Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) would return for the third movie — he needs to stay dead for his second death to have any impact — it's also true that his absence could free up some room for more Cheetah. 

In any case, if the third movie is as long as the second, there will be plenty of screen time to go around.